Recycling Zero Waste

Going Zero Waste

If you search online for “zero waste” living, you’ll be met with two different groups – those that market “zero waste” items and the heavy-duty zero waste families who can fit their entire family’s garbage from one year in a single jar.

It’s easy to feel daunted by both. In order to reduce waste, do I need to buy new stuff? That seems counterintuitive. And how can we go from biweekly garbage pick ups to one jar a year?

Reducing waste isn’t about getting down to no waste at all, in this time and place it’s next to impossible to achieve. But don’t let that be discouraging. There are so many things you and your family can do to cut back on your waste production that will have an impact.

Some of the easiest first steps:

  1. Request a smaller waste bin – like using a smaller plate for portion control, if you have a smaller bin you have to create less waste.
  2. Refuse giveaways – I never take samples that won’t get used and will eventually go to landfill. This is a tough one with kids, just keep some balance between loot bag toys and treat bags but avoid buying new toys or books that you know are going to end up broken and trashed.
  3. Take your own bags – Throw some in your car or backpack. If you forget to take them into the store, refuse the plastic bags, load the groceries back into the cart and bag them at your car. It takes an extra minute or two, but saves potentially dozens of plastic bags.
  4. Buy less and buy used – there is no reason for more stuff to be manufactured when there are perfectly good used options out there. Give them a wash, repair or mend and you’ve saved money and reduced waste.
  5. Use your organics bin, compost or find a community compost centre – organics waste in landfill will either not decompose at all because of the lack of oxygen at the site, or if it does decompose, it cumulatively produces loads of greenhouse gases. Taking steps to compost food scraps and yard waste can greatly reduce the amount of garbage you send to the landfill each year.

In my family, this has been an ongoing challenge for over two years. We aren’t close to getting down to a single jar of waste, but we’ve made significant reductions in the amount of waste we’re sending to landfill.